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People love to be entertained. Movies, television shows, stage plays, anything that presents them with a reality a little different from their own. While a lot of people are involved in creating these fantasies from set designers to caterers, it is the actors that people can identify with. The actors are the people who bring the stories to life.

Actors present stories to us in a number of ways. They can have recurring or guest roles in TV series or they may work in commercials or films. They can sing and dance their way through stage musicals, and perform in radio plays and become the voices behind animated cartoons.

Some actors choose to work exclusively in film or television. These actors spend much of their time reading scripts, and waiting around the film or studio set for the lighting, cameras, and extras to be in place before beginning a scene. They may be required to do the scene over and over again, until everything is just right. Television actors work in much the same way, but it is less tricky to get the shots done, as the sets are usually less complicated, the casts smaller, and the amount of footage required to make the show is about a third of the footage needed for films.

Stage actors work differently. Unlike film and television actors who shoot the film out of sequence, one snippet at a time, stage actors are required to memorize a whole play in order, and be able to recreate their performance, including movement, stunts, facial expressions, and songs, night after night, often for months.
Some stage actors join acting ensembles. This allows the actor to relax a little. By belonging to an ensemble, they will be cast in a number of plays over the year, all produced by their theater company

Actors may need to spend years preparing for their careers. Even once they get a job, there are no guarantees they will continue to find work afterwards. They must audition over and over again, and try to impress the important industry figures (casting directors, directors and producers.) As soon as they get some experience actors must get agents. Agents will communicate with casting agents and directors to find suitable parts for their clients, as well as negotiate contracts and hours for the actors.

Acting can be a tough and unforgiving career. An actor may spend years struggling as an extra and bit part actor without ever making it big. Actors may have to sacrifice a lot, move to where the jobs are, and audition, again and again until the big break finally comes.
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Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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